A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fr Sydney Nugent SM

19 February 1928 ~ August 8 2020

Sydney John Nugent was born in Junee, rural New South Wales, on 19 February 1928 to John Brendan and Mary Amelia Nugent. Syd’s father was Shire Clerk and Engineer as well as being a farmer/grazier near Junee. Syd attended St Joseph’s Convent for his entire primary schooling. For his secondary education Syd boarded with the Marist Brothers at St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill, from 1940 until 1945.

Following secondary schooling, Syd joined the Marist Fathers in 1946. Novitiate was done at Armidale in 1947 and profession was made on 2 February 1948. Seminary studies were done at Toongabbie and ordination took place in Junee on 25 July 1953, during the final year of studies.

In 1954, although he had been appointed to Japan, at the last moment Fr Syd was asked to go and assist Fr Kevin Glover in opening the new Marist parish of West Sunshine in western Melbourne, where he worked for three years, and was still fondly remembered by Sunshine oldies fifty years later.

In 1957, Fr Syd eventually headed for Japan and began two years of language studies. When these were completed in late 1959 he was stationed in the parish of Nara with Fr Tony Glynn. He was to remain at Nara until 1971, during which time he successfully negotiated with the city for land and help to build a church, presbytery and kindergarten after the council had resumed the old Nara church.

In 1971-72, Fr Syd attended the East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila, Philippines. Returning to Japan he went to Gose as parish priest. Here he helped to give new life to a struggling kindergarten and St Joseph’s Old People’s Home at Kuzu. He also built the church and presbytery in Kuzu. As a combination of hostel care and nursing home care for the elderly was identified as a great need for the mission of the Church in Japan in 1991, Fr Syd moved from Gose to Suzaku in Nara city and undertook the building and running of Santa Maria Nursing home.

Fr Syd retired from the Nara mission in 2012, returning to Australia and residing at Montbel, Hunters Hill, where he and his motorised scooter soon became a popular sight on local roadways.

After a year of declining health and a brief period at St Anne’s Nursing Home, Hunters Hill, Fr Syd was called to God on 8 August 2020. He had been the only surviving member of the St Joseph’s College First XV rugby team of his era at the time of his death. May he rest in well-deserved peace.   

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